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Web Letter

If these workers didn't have it worse in there own crappy countries, they would not come here! If they do not like things here, they should, please, go home. If they want the pay, which they seem to want, let them stay, work and not whine to the liberals!

By the way, whatever happened to the sharecroppers we used to have in this country--shouldn't we be using them instead of the illegals?

Bill Nigh

Riverside, CA

Oct 30 2007 - 5:55pm

Web Letter

In a recent article by Julia Preston of the New York Times News service, she interviewed an "American" farmer who took his fifty million dollar operation from California to Celaya, Mexico, because he claimed he couldn't get enough workers in the US. In California, he had to pay his workers $9 an hr., and, in Mexico he payed them$11 a day. He also wondered why Mexicans didn't work as hard in Mexico as they did in California. However, because of the low wages, he had already gotten back his start-up cost in Mexico.

Recently, Fleetwood took its travel trailer division from Rialto, California, to Mexicali, Mexico. In California they were paying their workers $20 an hour, and in Mexico the going rate was $3.

With open borders and "Free Trade," wages for legal and illegal workers will be driven down. They will still claim they need the Guest Worker program to further drive down wages in the US.

I think you owe Lou Dobbs an apology.

Pervis James Casey

Riverside, CA

Oct 30 2007 - 3:25pm

Web Letter

Thank you for writing about this issue. The guest workers are often invisible to the rest of the world. It is only when there are articles such as this that people find out, or are reminded of, the suffering these workers endure.

Ever since the time of bracero program the "guest worker" programs resulted in the super exploitation of these workers--particularly in agriculture. There is no reason to believe that an expanded guest worker will not result in more abuse.

While the law will, on paper, provide protections, history demonstrates that the law is rarely, if ever, enforced. The few times that workers' rights are protected, it is because legal aid attorneys or other public interest organizations have intervened on their behalf.

Two studies in recent years illustrate the failure of governmental agencies to enforce the laws. The first one, "Suffering in the Pastures of Plenty: Experiences of H-2A Sheepherders in California's Central Valley," describes how workers brought in from Peru, Chile and Mongolia were required to be at isolate work sites by themselves twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a week. They had no form of communication with the outside world or transportation in case of emergencies. They lived in tiny trailers with no heat, electricity or running water. Many said they felt they were treated like slaves. Often they were required to do non-sheepherding work that was not in their contract. For their efforts they were paid $650 per month--about 90 cents per hour that they were forced to be at the worksite. If they complained they were sent back to the country of origin at the employer's whim. This study served as a catalyst for the introduction of (very limited) protections for California sheepherders.

Two years later a second study, "Watching Sheep and Waiting for Justice: An Update on H-2A Sheepherders in California's Central Valley," was published, looking at whether the protective labor legislation passed as a result of the first study made a difference. The study demonstrated massive violations of the law and no action by the governmental agencies. Except for a higher wage little had changed for these workers.

An expanded guest worker program means expanded exploitation.

Chris Schneider

Fresno, CA

Oct 30 2007 - 12:24am

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